A major programme of investment by Dublin City Council is underway to improve the quality of streets and public spaces in The Liberties. The Council adopted The Liberties Greening Strategy in 2014 setting out a series of projects to renew historic streetscapes and develop new public spaces; to increase tree cover and provide new parks and amenities; and to improve the quality of the environment through measures such as Sustainable Urban Drainage systems (SUDs) and the installation of energy efficient street lighting. You can find out more about some of the projects currently in train below.
Since 2014 Dublin City Council has progressed a major renewal of Thomas Street and James Street – the main thoroughfare through The Liberties. Pavements and street surfaces have been renewed, almost 60 new heritage lighting columns installed, and crossings, bus and traffic infrastructure have been improved. Over 90 decorative tree planters and troughs now ‘green’ the route from High Street to the fountain at James Street. The new planters and street lighting have been grant assisted by Fáilte Ireland under its Dubline capital investment fund. In addition, an ongoing programme of shopfront and building improvements is revitalising one of the city’s most historic streetscapes.
Weaver Park is the first new purpose-built park to be developed in The Liberties since St Patrick’s Park in the early 20th century. The park is located on Cork Street, adjoining The Tenters, and its name reflects the weaving industry that once dominated this part of the city. Weaver Park is a flagship project of The Liberties Greening Strategy and its design involved extensive local community engagement and participation. Officially opened in October 2017, the park includes active and passive play areas, planted areas, integrated skateboard-friendly features and a performance space. With the development of two adjoining sites on Chamber Street for housing in 2020-2021, Weaver Park will form the centre of an informal square surrounded by residential buildings.
Francis Street is one of Dublin’s oldest thoroughfares, and is best known today as Dublin’s Art & Antiques Quarter. The street is lined with small shops and businesses but also has a diverse community living on the street and in the adjoining areas.
A public realm improvement of Francis Street is now proposed that will revitalise the street, introducing widened pavements; new street lighting, trees and soft landscaping to the street; and measures to better manage and organise car parking and loading for businesses. Developed by Ait Urbanism + Landscape for Dublin City Council, the plans include two threshold spaces to the front of the street’s premier landmarks: The Iveagh Market and St Nicholas de Myra Church. Work on the scheme will commence in 2020 with an expected duration of 9-12 months.
A new park at Bridgefoot Street is the second flagship project of The Liberties Greening Strategy. The park will see a currently vacant site, previously occupied by housing, transformed into an amenity area for the considerable community living close by. A design team led by Dermot Foley Landscape Architects undertook extensive community engagement to create a robust design for a park that blends passive and active play areas, rolling landscape, a community garden and naturalistic planting. An ethos of recycling and reuse will premeate the park, which is due to open in early summer 2021.
The historic marketplace of Newmarket is undergoing dramatic change, rapidly becoming a new destination for visitors to the area. Long appreciated for its regular markets, the arrival of Teeling Whiskey Distillery in 2015 added a new dimension to the square, and coincided with the redevelopment of various vacant sites and former industrial sheds in the area. Dublin City Council, together with Urban Agency architects, now proposes to radically redesign Newmarket and its adjoining streets, creating a multi-functional pedestrianised space at the heart of the square and improving pavements, street lighting, street planting and other features. The project received planning permission in Summer 2017 and is now subject to detailed design. Meanwhile a number of privately-owned sites around the public space have begun to redevelop as apartments, offices, retail and leisure uses.
Despite its size, Crane Street is one of the busiest pedestrian routes in the area, forming as it does the main approach to The Guinness Storehouse – Ireland’s biggest visitor attraction. The Storehouse welcomed over 1.7m visitors each year, but, until recently, for most it was a less than ideal approach. Crane Street and Sugar House Lane have now been transformed, with wider pavements, retaining historic kerbs and setts and creating an attractive new setting for one of the area’s most iconic photo-ops – the Guinness Gate. Parking and heavy vehicles have been removed and the route now has a clear pedestrian focus. The area has also been ‘greened’ with new planters and trees on School Street.
The historic churches of St Audoen’s on High Street are notable landmarks at the entrance to The Liberties. The complex includes St Audoen’s Church of Ireland (the city’s oldest surviving parish church dating from 1190), the 19thC Roman Catholic Church, now a focus for the city’s Polish community, and the famous steps and gate through a remaining section of Dublin’s 12th century city wall. The grounds of these churches and the adjoining parks have been substantially remodeled; improving entrances, enhancing circulation and views into the park, adding lush planting and lighting. The park also includes a new sensory children’s play area, a number of retained archaeological features such as paving excavated during works, and a memorial to children who lost their lives in the events of Easter 1916.
A series of public realm improvements are now being consider to revive the commercial area of Dolphin’s Barn. A redesign of the crossroads of Dolphin’s Barn and South Circular Road is proposed including widened pavements, the creation of new public spaces, tree planting and greening, improved street furniture, improved crossings and greater pedestrian priority. The project received its planning permission in 2018. In addition to streetworks, an initiative to improve shopfronts and commercial premises is underway.
The improvements will also extend to Cork Street. A study has been commission to look at ways to enhance public space and ‘green’ what is largely a traffic-dominated street. New additions have already been made, including Weaver Park and the new landscaped area to the front of the former St Luke’s Church (now Thomas Burgh House).
Meath Street – The Liberties’ famous market street – is proposed for a revamp that will create wider pavements and space on the street for stalls and market life. The project, led by Haslem & Co Architects, began with initial public consultations in October 2018. The concept design will be advanced in 2020.
A series of project are combining to revitalise the largely residential area around Marrowbone Lane and Pimlico. A recent ‘depaving’ project at Marrowbone Lane saw the removal of a large area of carparking and its replacement with a border of trees and lush planting and new seating area. Local play grounds in the vicinity have been modernised and work is also planning to enhance Pimlico Green and Pimlico Terrace. A masterplan to renew the 1950s flat complexes in this area is now being developed by Dubllin City Council.